Russia may legalise software piracy due to economic sanctions - report

Russia could be set to legalise software piracy to ease the impact of sanctions against the country as it invades Ukraine, with the potential to impact some New Zealand businesses.

Website TorrentFreak says the country's Ministry of Economic Development has written a plan to ensure Russia's economy survives as overseas companies withdraw from it.

Those sanctions are in place due to Vladmir Putin's, which has been widely condemned around the world as hundreds of civilians are killed and millions flee Ukraine.

One of the measures in the document, titled 'Priority Action Plan for Ensuring the Development of the Russian Economy in the Conditions of External Sanctions Pressure', would come into play when foreign companies revoke or refuse to issue software licenses.

According to the document it could also impact on trademark, patent and copyright owners that act against Russia's interests or are from countries that support sanctions. New Zealand is one of those countries.

It's currently illegal to use unlicensed software in Russia, but if the document is adopted then that would become non-punishable by the courts, despite the country's long history supporting anti-piracy measures.

According to TorrentFreak the country is also looking at removing liability for intellectual property (IP) offences, which could allow it to, effectively, rip off designs and inventions for its own use.

The Kremlin is also considering 'grey importing' products from other countries, which means purchasing through different distribution channels other than those authorised by the manufacturer.

It's not clear yet how the proposed measures would handle software that is delivered via cloud subscriptions.

Technology companies around the world have been taking action in Russia since the invasion in late February.

Netflix has stopped streaming operations in the country following the invasion, while Amazon has stopped taking new customers for its AWS web services product from both Russia and Belarus, which has supported the invasion.

Social media platforms, like Twitter and Facebook have taken action to try and ensure misinformation is minimised while allowing access to those sites to continue so what's happening in Ukraine can be reported.

Twitter and the BBC have introduced services on the TOR Network so Russians have access to information otherwise censored by Putin's regime.

Both Google and Apple also stopped reporting live traffic information in Ukraine in order to potentially protect those who were fleeing and causing traffic jams.